Analyzing the Collection

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Yes, I am a hoarder of sorts. I collect little bits here and there, I pick things up off the ground, I save dried flowers and dried bug bodies. Rocks, sticks and leaves, bones, broken china and tarnished silver. Rusty, crusty sometimes unidentifiable pieces of a long-forgotten piece of machinery. I cannot resist doilies and hand-painted china. This has been going on since childhood, but I never took the time to think about why these things speak to me, call to me, insinuate themselves into my drawers and boxes and trays and into my home as objects d’art.

As South Main Creative became a cohesive concept, I realized everything tells a story and the story is the lure. Every merchant here tells their unique story through the items they choose to collect, to buy and resell, to make with tender loving care or the sweat of their brows. Considering those stories brought me to consider my own.

I was blessed to grow up an only child in the country. We had horses, cats, and dogs. The cats and dogs were always rescued (or “dropped off”). I witnessed procreation, birth and death. My escape from our daily routine of care and maintenance of our horse ranch was to disappear into the woods. There was on old barn and the remnants of an old homestead on the back of our 72 acres. Hidden in broken-down sheds and an old cellar were mason jars and bottles, cracked china, old silverware. Still flourishing at the front of the abandoned homesite were rows and rows of daffodils that every spring would triumphantly rise up through the overgrown weeds and bushes. I could pick armloads of them and carry them back home to decorate our decidedly depressing brown-paneled trailer house (they were not called mobile homes in those days). I tease my son and tell him I grew up during the depression.

Running East-West through our property were the remains of an old railroad track. Walking along the rise could reveal a rusty railroad spike or a chunk of bubbly iron spewed long ago out of a coal-fired engine. Down from the rise was a drainage creek where I could set up my wooden crates and old dishes and play house. We called the little draw “Copperhead Corner.” I like snakes, too.

I could go on and on about the life-altering sweet and freakish things that happened during those years (maybe I’ll write a book), but the point is I analyzed and discovered what makes me tick. And yes, I’m still picking stuff up off the ground, maybe I’ll do something with it someday.

Have you thought about your collecting/making/nostalgic story?


  1. sandy

    U described me to a “T”. But I affectionately blame my collecting on my “Depression” era Mom. She was the total opposite of a pack rat. Everything had a purpose or it wasnt in the house. So when she thought we had outgrown a toy, it was “passed down” to the next child. I loved my first Barbie & Ken with a passion. When the time came she believed i was too old for dolls, i had to pass it down to a younger family member. I didn’t argue. We didn’t do that to our parents. I did what i was told. One day weeks or months later i found my precious Barbie abandoned in the muddy creek behind their house. I was heartbroken. And had a deep resentment for a long time. U believe ut was then that started saving everything that gave me pleasure because “no one else would love and care for it the way I did”. But for yrs now, i am working on turning a new leaf. I am letting go and not collecting as many items. We had to go through 2households of stuff from our parents. It was hard emotionally, physically & mentally. I decided. I didnt want to put our only son thru that trauma. Fortunately tbe collecting chain broke with him. He is not a hoarder or much of a collector.

    • Valerie Wingert

      Thanks for your insights. You are correct, if collecting becomes an overwhelming problem it needs to be dealt with. Being a “steward” to too many items that have no monetary value can be a burden emotionally and physically! At least if things are valuable, theoretically they can be sold and someone can realize a financial return.

  2. Reveille

    This is honestly the first time I’ve felt seen in this respect. I, too, grew up in the country– or forest, really. I have been obsessed with items left behind from washers, to interesting rocks. As a child I would obsessively pour through my grandmother’s and great aunt’s basements, attics and junk drawers collecting little things long since forgotten. Baubles, broken jewelry, buttons, and old scraps of paper. To this day I love rifling through junk drawers- even my own. In a way these spaces (attics, basements, etc.) are reliquaries of lives past even when the owner still remains living. Our junk is a tangible representation of ourselves, something to be preserved and reused. Thank you so much for this post.

    • Valerie Wingert

      Thank you for your insightful observations! All of these little odd things are treasures to me and I can tell you fell the same!

  3. Rhonda

    Valerie, I really like your blog posts and relate to them. I wish you would write more.

    • Valerie Wingert

      Thank you Rhonda! Wish I had more time to write!


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